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Cicely Fox Smith

(1882-1954 / England)

Half-Past Eleven Square


There's a town I know in Flanders, an' there ain't much else to say,
But it's pretty much like most towns when the war 'as passed their way;
There's tumbled shops an' 'ouses, an' there's brickbats everywhere,
An' a place that British soldiers call ''Alf-past Eleven Square.'

There's a silly clock stuck up there that's forgot the way to chime,
With its silly fingers pointin' to the same old bloomin' time;
An' the world it keeps on turnin', but it makes no difference there,
For it never gets no later in 'Alf-past Eleven Square.

There's a stink o' gas a-crawlin' where the people lived before,
That it used to tell the time to when there 'adn't been no war,
In the day the whizz-bangs bustin', in the night the starshells' glare,
An' 'oo cares what the time is in 'Alf-past Eleven Square?

You could walk for 'arf a day there, an' there's not a soul to meet
In the empty smashed-up 'ouses an' the empty sandbagged street;
They've packed their traps up long since an' they've gone for change of air,
For you bet it ain't no 'ealth-resort - 'Alf-past Eleven Square.

An' it only wakes up sometimes, when the armies come an' go,
With the transport an' the wounded an' the big guns crawlin' slow;
But let 'em come or let 'em go, the clock don't seem to care
If it's Fritz or Tommy marchin' through 'Alf-past Eleven Square.

But it's waitin' - waitin' - waitin' till the world goes on once more,
An' the folk come back to live there as they used to live before,
An' open wide the broken door an' climb the broken stair,
An' move along its fingers in 'Alf-past Eleven Square.

Yes, it's waitin' - waitin' - waitin', just the same as you an' me.
For the same world, only better than the old one used to be;
An' I've got a barmy notion that I wish I might be there
When twelve o'clock is strikin' in 'Alf-past Eleven Square!

Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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